Sunday, March 22, 2020
Movie Review - "My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising" (2019)
"My Hero Academia" is a special breed of anime, falling more in line with Western ideals of heroism with the spectacle and wonder that comes with Japanese animation and long term character development. For those unaware, "My Hero Academia" is set in a world where 80 percent of the worlds’ population is born with a unique super power, known as quirks, such as sweat turning into nitroglycerin or being born with engines in your legs that let you run extremely fast. As expected, there are those who use their quirks for personal gain and villainy, praying on those with weaker quirks or no quirks at all. To combat these villains, the world relies on superheroes using their own quirks to protect the innocent. These heroes are so ingrained in their society that they have special schools to train the next generation of heroes, hone their quirks and learn from the wisdom of veteran heroes, including the world’s number one hero, All-Might.
What makes "My Hero Academia" so special is that, despite living up to its opening line of "not all men are created equal" since many are born stronger, faster, or smarter than others through their quirks, while others are simply just more powerful which they feel makes them better, the show never stops being amazingly optimistic and uplifting. Part of it is because of the heroic beliefs the show often projects about being a selfless person and how power should be used to help others. But the bigger example is how we watch this group of high schoolers not only learn how to be better heroes, but better people. Despite having a cast of 20 characters that all have decent amounts of screentime, it does feel like each of them is learning from each other to become the best version of themselves. The best parts of the show are not the ones with big action sequences with lots of destruction, but rather the quiet moments where a character stands up for themselves or breaks out of their comfort zone and sees how that affects their classmates. The show proves that heroism isn’t about being born stronger or faster, but rather being better than the person you were yesterday and sharing that enthusiasm with the world.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that "My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising" is not only a perfect movie version of the anime, but just might be one of the greatest anime movies of all time. The movie knows exactly what makes the show so great, the characters, and delivers that in droves, while still escalating the conflict to a more personal and hard-fought level that couldn’t be shown on television. In this case, the class of 1-A is tasked with protecting and guarding a small island and its people all on their own, which becomes threatened when an extremely powerful villain, Nine, attacks the island so that he can steal a quirk that would allow him to take over the world through brute force. Without any way of contacting their teachers or the hero society, class 1-A must stop Nine on their own, led by the figure heads of the class, Midoriya and Bakugo.
"Heroes Rising" gives every character a chance to shine, even the ones who have taken more of a supporting role over the last few seasons. Whether it’s a memorable line or heroic moment, or nailing a big blow against Nine or his companions, they all come across as heroes in their own way. But what really sells the movie is the animation and the ending fight, both of which are so beautiful in their scope and impact that I nearly cried at a couple points. The awe of stellar animation and wonderfully built character development between Midoriya and Bakugo is what makes this movie worthy of being the greatest anime movie of all time, right up there with "Dragonball Super: Broly," and the final push where everything clicks is what sends it over the edge.
If you’re a fan of "My Hero Academia" or anime or even just animation, do yourself a favor and give "Heroes Rising" a shot. The movie tells you everything you need to know about the anime, so you’re not missing out on much information. I guarantee that if you’re not a fan of "My Hero Academia" already, watching this movie will make you want to give it a chance.
Final Grade: A